Caltech Asks Pasadena Residents to Host Mini Seismometers for 'Crowd-Sourced' Earthquake Prediction

Do you live in Pasadena, South Pasadena or San Marino? Do you keep your computer on 24/7, against the pleas of Southern California Edison? (Or are you willing to start keeping it on in the name of "crowd-sourced seismology"?)

Then Caltech wants very much to come to your home and install a creepy little seismometer -- about the size of a wallet and worth $100.

Once enough small black boxes have been installed (the goal for now is 1,000)...

... Caltech geophysics professor Robert Clayton will be able to "assess seismic hazards block by block, and in some cases floor by floor," says a press release from the university.

Although we can't guarantee this isn't some Big Brother ploy by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors to track our Internet activity under the guise of science!, we're thinking the professor's plan might be too fascinating for quake-obsessed Californians to resist.

To better understand how a thick grid of these little guys could flesh out the exact shake patterns of a quake (and the exact responses of our man-made shelters), here's a video rendering of Caltech's Millikan Library during the great rumble of September '11. Sensors were placed on each floor.

And here's one of the Newport-Inglewood fault line during a small shake, as illuminated by 5,000 sensors placed on every city block in the LBC.

So if you do sign up to host a 'meter, what's in it for you?

The satisfaction of knowing you're in a long line of prestigious seismometer hosts including Charlie Richter, of course. Also, says Caltech, "you'll be contributing to a serious civic project -- creating block-by-block earthquake-intensity maps that can guide ambulances and fire trucks to hard-hit areas almost while the ground is still rolling."

The professor's plan for total earthquake domination in SoCal:

Little by little, Clayton hopes to grow the Community Seismic Network to 15,000 sensors spanning the Los Angeles basin, from the Hollywood Hills to Lake Forest in southern Orange County.

Like we said, kind of creepy, but ultimately irresistible. For L.A. Weekly's own predictions once the Big One hits, see reporter Ryan Deto's "Who dies in Los Angeles, and why, when the earth quakes on the San Andreas Fault?"

[@simone_electra / swilson@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]


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